Roxbury’s Southwest Corridor: Archaeology of Industry and Transportation

Sponsored by Roxbury Historical Society & Haley House Bakery Cafe

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 7:00pm

Location:
Haley House Bakery Cafe 
12 Dade St, Dudley Square 
Roxbury, MA 2119 
United States

Join the Roxbury Historical Society to learn about the archaeology of Roxbury’s Southwest Corridor! Archaeologists Beth Bower and Miles Shugar will present their work on these fascinating archaeological sites that were excavated in the 1970s before the construction of the Orange Line subway. 

Beth’s work uncovered a variety of interesting sites, including breweries, factories, foundries, and housing from the 18th-19th centuries. Miles will then discuss one of these sites, the Metropolitan Railroad Company Site, in more detail. Horse-cars and an electric street railway hub operated from 1850 to 1920 at the present-day Roxbury Crossing MBTA station. 

The archaeology of horse-car street railways and technological change will be illustrated through artifacts, documents, and photographs of Boston’s early mass transit systems.

Apples in the News

Roxbury’s long-gone orchards are well known in local history circles. The Roxbury Russet apple and Bartlett Pear both hail from our long-ago days as an agricultural community, and it’s not uncommon to see a few Russets planted at historical sites. But until recently, people who aren’t history buffs wouldn’t have heard of these fruits or known that Roxbury was once known far and wide for its orchards.



That seems to be changing. Across the country, grocery stores and restaurants now feature all sorts of artisanal and heirloom foods that would have been completely foreign to most eaters 20 years ago. So it’s no surprise that the Roxbury Russet, in particular, is making something of a comeback.

Fans of apple lore and Roxbury history will be pleased to see that this attention has put the apple in the news, propelled by the release of a new book titled “Apples of Uncommon Character.” The book, which has led to stories in the Boston Globe and on WBUR, is getting positive reviews so far. I’m sure it will be a worthy addition to any local historian’s bookshelf. 


With apple picking season upon us, now’s a great time to go out pick a few Roxbury Russets of your own. There are a handful of trees around Roxbury, but most are privately owned or otherwise not suitable for public consumption. The nearest commercial orchard I could find that advertises the apple is Clarkdale Farm in Deerfield.  The UMass Amherst Cold Spring Orchard also sells the Russet, which is available in the first half of October. 

Of course, most apple buffs also know that apples were prized less for their fruit than for their use to make hard cider. West County Cider in Colerain, MA, has been making some excellent single-apple varietals in recent years. Luckily for us, one of those is the Roxbury Russet. The cider can sometimes be found at Blanchard’s in JP. If it’s not their, they may be able to special order it for you. West County doesn’t have much of a website, but they did make a pretty good YouTube video a couple of years ago that gives a good overview of cider production.



If you’ve got a plot of land with some sun and you’re hoping to grow apples, you’re also in luck. A number of vendors sell Roxbury Russets, including Fedco, Stark Bros., Trees of Antiquity, Maple Valley, and Century Farm.

Whether you prefer to read about apples, eat them raw, turn them into pies, or drink a glass of cider, it’s great to see the Roxbury’s history as an apple producing town getting some press. Happy fall!

Apples in the News

Roxbury’s long-gone orchards are well known in local history circles. The Roxbury Russet apple and Bartlett Pear both hail from our long-ago days as an agricultural community, and it’s not uncommon to see a few Russets planted at historical sites. But until recently, people who aren’t history buffs wouldn’t have heard of these fruits or known that Roxbury was once known far and wide for its orchards.



That seems to be changing. Across the country, grocery stores and restaurants now feature all sorts of artisanal and heirloom foods that would have been completely foreign to most eaters 20 years ago. So it’s no surprise that the Roxbury Russet, in particular, is making something of a comeback.

Fans of apple lore and Roxbury history will be pleased to see that this attention has put the apple in the news, propelled by the release of a new book titled “Apples of Uncommon Character.” The book, which has led to stories in the Boston Globe and on WBUR, is getting positive reviews so far. I’m sure it will be a worthy addition to any local historian’s bookshelf. 


With apple picking season upon us, now’s a great time to go out pick a few Roxbury Russets of your own. There are a handful of trees around Roxbury, but most are privately owned or otherwise not suitable for public consumption. The nearest commercial orchard I could find that advertises the apple is Clarkdale Farm in Deerfield.  The UMass Amherst Cold Spring Orchard also sells the Russet, which is available in the first half of October. 

Of course, most apple buffs also know that apples were prized less for their fruit than for their use to make hard cider. West County Cider in Colerain, MA, has been making some excellent single-apple varietals in recent years. Luckily for us, one of those is the Roxbury Russet. The cider can sometimes be found at Blanchard’s in JP. If it’s not their, they may be able to special order it for you. West County doesn’t have much of a website, but they did make a pretty good YouTube video a couple of years ago that gives a good overview of cider production.



If you’ve got a plot of land with some sun and you’re hoping to grow apples, you’re also in luck. A number of vendors sell Roxbury Russets, including Fedco, Stark Bros., Trees of Antiquity, Maple Valley, and Century Farm.

Whether you prefer to read about apples, eat them raw, turn them into pies, or drink a glass of cider, it’s great to see the Roxbury’s history as an apple producing town getting some press. Happy fall!

Take a free online course about the history of Boston from Suffolk University!

Just a quick post to let you know that Suffolk will be offering its free online History of Boston course in 8 self-paced installments beginning October 20. This course is highly rated and looks very well designed. I’ll be taking it even though I took a History of Boston course at Northeastern not that many years ago.  Sign up and get more info at http://historyofboston.org/ 

Kittredge House Opens its doors

Last night, Historic Boston Inc. and a wide variety of supporters including Mayor Marty Walsh celebrated the completion of the renovations of the historic Alvah Kittredge House into 5 apartments. The $1.2 million renovation has brought the house’s glorious exterior back and saved elements of the interior while tastefully updating and repurposing it.  Congrats to HBI on a job well done, and welcome to the new residents who will soon be moving in!

New book on Boston Beer

Fans of Roxbury history will want to add Boston Beer: A History of Brewing in the Hub to their bookshelves.  I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive, but given the subject matter the book is sure to have lots of info on the string of breweries along the Stony Brook.



WBUR did an interview with the author a couple of months back.



Upcoming Fort Hill Events

Here are a couple of events you won’t want to miss if you like our neighborhood history.

First up, the annual Jazz at the Fort concert series returns to Highland Park after last year’s construction on Sunday, August 3, at 5PM.  This year’s headliner is the Jaleel Shaw Quartet. Get all the details at the Berklee website here:  http://www.berklee.edu/events/jazz-fort-jaleel-shaw-quartet 

And on Monday, August 11, from 5:30 to 8PM, you won’t want to miss your one and only chance to tour the newly renovated Alvah Kittredge House and learn about Mr. Kittredge and his house.  The event will be hosted by HBI and the bill says that Mayor Walsh is planning on attending. The first tenants will move in soon, so this don’t miss this one!  See the flyer at this link or RSVP here.

aurimasmb said: What's the story of the beautiful (somewhat dilapidated) mansion on the corner of Highland and Hawthorne streets, just across from Beech Glen St.?

That house belonged to David Hodgdon, who made a fortune in clothing and textiles.  I wrote it up a while back: http://forthillhistory.tumblr.com/post/15100678539/who-was-david-hodgdon

Tour the Standpipe!

May is National Historic Preservation Month, and the City of Boston is celebrating with events in every neighborhood. The one that is most interesting to us is undoubtedly this one:

Friday, May 30, 2:00-3:00 – Restoring the Fort Hill Standpipe (Rapunzel’s Tower)

Tour and informative session regarding recent renovations to the Fort Hill Standpipe, led by City of Boston Property and Construction Management Department Project Manager Leo Murphy.

Free and open to the public.

Contact Alistair Lucks – Alistair.lucks@gosbon.gov / 617-634-3400



Hope to see you there!

The Story of our Mile Markers, as told by the Globe

Last week, the Globe ran a nice story on the history of the mile markers in Boston. Our neighborhood is fortunate enough to have two of these from the 1700’s, the Parting Stone in Eliot Square and the 3-mile marker just down Centre across from Gardner.  Most of these were installed by Paul Dudley, one of Roxbury’s many famous Dudleys.

The story also included this map showing the location of all the mile markers around Boston.  If you’ve never taken the time to stop and visit the Parting Stone or Mile Marker 3, make sure you do next time you’re walking around the neighborhood!